Artist Jimmy Willing has begun the process of transforming the art work on front of the Nimbin Hotel.
Artist Jimmy Willing has begun the process of transforming the art work on front of the Nimbin Hotel. Cathy Adams

Feral panels for rural mural

NIMBIN'S Freemasons Hotel has called in the cavalry to restore the pub's aging murals.

After rave reviews for his beach mural behind the stage at the Railway Friendly Bar in Byron Bay, local artist and performer Jimmy Willing has taken his brushes to Nimbin to create a rural equivalent.

Surrounded by history books and sketches, Jimmy was hard at it yesterday conceiving the seven panels of mural making up the 21m required to span the hotel's front verandah.

Tom Mooney, the owner of both pubs, was so impressed by the Rails mural he asked Jimmy to take his talents out west.

"Tom asked me to re-do the existing murals but I declined, like Michelangelo to the Pope," quipped Jimmy.

"The old mural's theme was the ages of Nimbin, starting with the Dreamtime, through to the pioneers and from there it goes hippie - but I decided the theme was going to be old-time Nimbin," he said.

"I'm going to do it as a 1930s period piece and that means Nimbin still had horse-drawn vehicles and old trucks with wooden-spoke wheels.

"So I'm studying old horse-drawn vehicles and because I used to drive them it's something that I understand, so I can put it together properly."

Jimmy said he wanted to draw on the theme that underpinned his performance at the last North Coast National Show.

"I want to use that truck, and I want to use old tractors and horses and even pigs.

"I want to do something that's influenced by that sort of stuff. I like the idea of Cullen St being rooted up by pigs and full of bog holes - actually it was a completely different age and era but in some ways it was even more feral than now.

"You read it in the history books - when the Italians arrived here their houses were tiny little things, just like some of the hippie shacks, with whole families in them - and the kids would often go to school without any shoes.

"The first two schoolmasters actually left town because they got involved in local feuding - all the stuff that happens in a small town today happened then too.

"We might bring the truck out, bring the band and have an old-time opening."

Jimmy expects the project to take about a month.

The hotel is also known as the Nimbin Hotel and Backpackers.


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